This month is National Heart Health Month and coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, killing around 73,000 people in the UK each year. This equates to 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women. There are an estimated 2.3 million people living with heart disease in the UK and beyond the age of fifty, the risk of developing CHD is similar for both sexes.
Diet and lifestyle
Diet and lifestyle factors have a huge influence on the likelihood of developing heart disease. Living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking are risk factors for the condition as is being overweight, which is directly associated to diet. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in plant-based foods, olive oil, fish and small amounts of meat is often hailed as the ultimate healthy heart healthy way of eating.
Everyday heart healthy foods
Deciding what foods to choose to help protect your heart from disease doesn’t need to be complicated as even the most ‘everyday’ foods can have a benefit. Whilst it’s the overall diet that is key, try including the foods below on your weekly shopping list.
Five favourite heart friendly foods
These cereal grains make a great breakfast option and you can also make your own reduced-sugar granola packed with nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Oats also contain a rich-source of beta-glucan, which is a type of soluble fibre shown to help reduce cholesterol levels (a risk factor for heart disease). Oats are recommended as part of the Portfolio diet (shown to help reduce cholesterol by up to 25%).
Salmon is an oily fish, rich in a group of essential fatty acids called omega 3. These fats are thought to promote good heart health by decreasing triglycerides, thinning the blood to help prevent clotting and increasing good (HDL) cholesterol. If you don’t eat oily fish then you may want to consider a supplement such as Healthspan’s Super Strength Omega 3, £15.95 for 180 capsules.
Extra virgin olive oil
This should be hailed as the king of all oils given is nourishing effects on the body. Extra virgin olive oil is at the heart of the Mediterranean diet and should be used as your main choice of cooking oil. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that help to increase you levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in phenolic antioxidants such as oleocanthal (gives olive oil its peppery taste) that has been shown to reduce inflammation (though to be a driver for many chronic diseases).
As a child, were you ever told to eat your greens? Well for good reason. Dark green leafy vegetables (kale, cabbage, spring greens) contain a good source of minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium, which are used by the body to help control blood pressure. They are also a rich source of dietary fibre and plant compounds that help to protect the body from disease. Try serving daily as a side dish or add to salads, stir-fry’s and soups.
This group of foods is one of the richest sources of fibre, which is lacking in the diet of many people. A half can serving (125g) provides a third of your recommended daily intake. Beans are also a good source of the minerals also found in dark green leafy vegetables (see above) and certain compounds in soya beans have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol (stick to good quality natural Non-GMO soy foods such as edamame beans and fermented where possible such as tempeh or miso). Try adding to salads, stews and stir-fry’s.
For further information on heart health this month visit: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/heart-month1 plus www.healthspan.co.uk and more recipes here at www.robhobson.co.uk
Pan-fried salmon with pomegranate, walnut and spinach salad
Salmon is a rich source of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation in the body and increase levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.
2 skinless salmon fillets
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
100g baby leaf spinach
Small handful of dill
¼ small onion, finely sliced
80g pomegranate arils
30g walnuts, lightly crushed
2 tsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
25g feta cheese, crumbled
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp allspice
Small pinch of smoked paprika
½ small garlic clove, crushed
Pinch of sea salt
1. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a small, non-stick pan and cook over a medium heat for 12 minutes, turning once.
2. Once the salmon is cooked set to one side and prepare the salad. Add the spinach, onion, pomegranate, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and feta to a medium-sized bowl with the oil and lemon juice then toss gently.
3. Add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk using a fork to combine well.
4. Dress the salad.
5. Serve the grilled salmon with a large handful of salad.